When he was a student, Hamied found there was a lot of disability support available at the University, but when he became a member of staff this stopped. The University responded to the legal requirement to create a disability equality scheme around 2006 and the first point raised was that it should support staff, as well as students. This support was run by the existing Disability Support Office (now called the Disability Advisory and Support Service – DASS), which was backed by then President & Vice Chancellor Professor Alan Gilbert. The University of Manchester became one of the first in the country to have a Disabled Staff Network (DSN), with Hamied elected as the founding chair.
What is intersectionality?
Intersectionality refers to the interconnection of social categorisations, for example disability, gender, race, class etc. Individuals often identify with multiple social categories and the way they interact can cause unique prejudice and discrimination.
In 2019, an intersectionality conference was held in association with the LGBT Network of Networks in Higher Education – looking at the intersections of disability, sexuality and gender identity. Sessions included faith and race intersecting with disability and how Athena SWAN includes Trans* identities.
The link between Disability and Athena SWAN
We believe that disability should be included within Athena SWAN. As Hamied pointed out, many people are intersectional and it can become difficult to choose between which identity (or identities) to focus on when it comes to attending staff forums and groups. Often these groups are independent from one another. One excellent example of different groups working together is World Aids Day, which is now being organised by ALLOUT LGBT staff network, Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) staff network and the Disability Staff Network (DSN) collaborating to raise money for those communities impacted by the disease.
The SHS Athena SWAN group are striving to take intersectionality into account when planning future Athena SWAN activities and activities within SHS. If you have any comments please contact us.